Review Article

Loss to follow-up from antiretroviral therapy clinics: A systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies in South Africa from 2011 to 2015

Samantha Kaplan, Katleho S. Nteso, Nathan Ford, Andrew Boulle, Graeme Meintjes
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 20, No 1 | a984 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v20i1.984 | © 2019 Samantha Kaplan, Katleho S. Nteso, Nathan Ford, Andrew Boulle, Graeme Meintjes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2019 | Published: 18 December 2019

About the author(s)

Samantha Kaplan, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, United States
Katleho S. Nteso, Medical Care Development International, Maseru, Lesotho, South Africa; and, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Nathan Ford, Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Andrew Boulle, Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Graeme Meintjes, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South Africa has the largest antiretroviral therapy (ART) programme in the world. To optimise programme outcomes, it is critical that patients are retained in care and that retention is accurately measured.

Objectives: To identify all studies published in South Africa from 2011 to 2015 that used loss to follow-up (LTFU) as an indicator or outcome to describe the variation in definitions and to estimate the proportion of patients lost to care across studies.

Method: All studies published between 01 January 2011 and October 2015 that included loss to follow-up or default from ART care in a South African cohort were included by use of a broad search strategy across multiple databases. To be included, the cohort had to include any patient ART data, including follow-up time, from 01 January 2010. Two authors, working independently, extracted data and assessed risk of bias from all manuscripts. Meta-analysis was performed for studies stratified by the same loss to follow-up definition.

Results: Forty-eight adult, 15 paediatric and 4 pregnant cohorts were included. Median cohort size was 3737; follow-up time ranged from 9 weeks to 5 years. Meta-analysis did not reveal an important difference in LTFU estimates in adult cohorts at 1 year between loss to follow-up defined as 3 months (11.0%, n = 4; 95% CI 10.7% – 11.2%) compared with 6 months (12.0%, n = 4; 95% CI 11.8% – 12.2%). Only two cohorts reported reliable LTFU estimates at 5 years: this was 25.1% (95% CI 24.8% – 25.4%).

Conclusion: South Africa should standardise a LTFU definition. This would aid in monitoring and evaluation of ART programmes, with the broader goal of improving patient outcomes.


Keywords

HIV; antiretroviral therapy (ART); loss to follow-up; disengagement; South Africa

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